Friday, September 12, 2014

Literature Review #2: For Those Who Dream Monsters

What would happen if a werewolf was challenged by a World War 2 tank?  However elementary that question seems, most of the conundrums faced in Anna Taborska's "For Those Who Dream Monsters" are infinitely more soul searching.  Film maker and horror writer, Ms. Taborska (check her out on or her website ) is also a sensational storyteller.  In this collection of short stories, every one of them delivers chills and provokes thought.  Whether looking deeper into our own ethos, or re-examining painful episodes of World War 2 atrocities, or pushing the reader to face uncomfortable realities, this book is horrifying and also inspires us to always to recognize the evil, even when the masses do not.
Selfishly speaking, I quickly became a big fan of Ms. Taborska well before I finished this book.  It has pained me that public school children are inundated with irrelevant nonsense, however, are so illiterate about the evil imposed on so many good souls by the Soviets and Nazis during the first half of the 20th century.  In a very chilling ghost story, "The Girl in the Blue Coat," the horror isn't so much a specter of a dead girl, but the very real Nazis and their collaborators in Poland.  In "Arthur's Cellar," the fact that a fiend is chained in the basement is secondary to the fact that it is wearing a Nazi insignia.  In a very thought provoking story ("The Apprentice"), the relationship of a helpless victim and an evil psychopath is examined in an uncomfortable manner.  Again, the psychopath isn't what unsettles us about this story, rather the twisted relationship the victim forges with him is what vibrates our spine.
This work also has some more traditional scares, whether it be a fish monster from a nearby river, an evil cat, the devil himself, or a consuming cancer.  Even in these stories, our monsters are metaphors for so much more.  The creepiness is enhanced by the eerie illustrations by Roger Oliver.  The danger of illustrations in a work of this type is if they serve to manipulate the imagination instead of allowing the reader's journey to be his/her own.  Mr. Oliver's drawings, though provoking, are subtle enough so as not to bias our experience with these stories. With all good horror, there must be some fun, and in "Cut" we are treated to a spoiled but unbalanced actress.  I am guessing Ms. Taborska's experience with film making personalities inspired "Cut."
I read "For Those Who Dream Monsters" on flights to and from Port-of-Spain, even though I needed to doze off instead.  If you are similar to me, and actually enjoy having dreams about monsters, go to Ms. Taborska's website (listed above) and order this collection.  Usually in short story collections, the best we usually get is a third of the works will be terrific, a third will be so-so, and a third will be entirely forgettable.  In this book, all 18 stories are fantastic.  This book is published by Mortbury Press, which also publishes the "Black Book of Horror" books ( ). 

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